Pretty. That's what society remembers Audrey Hepburn for: being pretty. And she is pretty, inside and out. But there is so much more to her than her outstanding looks. Audrey Hepburn was an amazing and iconic woman, because she survived the Holocaust, (and helped others survive Nazi Rule), became a successful actress that everyone admired, and went on to help children in poverty by being a UNICEF Ambassador. She lived a full life, and changed many others' lives in the process.
Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgium, on May 4th, 1929. Her mother was a Dutch Baroness, and her dad was an insurance agent- so they moved frequently. Later, in 1935, the couple divorced, due to the fact that Audrey's father was a Nazi Sympathizer. This was very traumatic for young Audrey, only 6 years old at the time. From 1935 to 1958, Audrey went to boarding schools. During the war, Audrey had anemia, repertory problems, and edema (swelling in the limbs). She also suffered from depression, and malnutrition. Conditions were brutal, there were pitiable rations, and shootings daily. Audrey even witnessed her uncle, and mother's cousin shot in the street. However, in 1939, her mother moved them to the Netherlands, thinking it would be safe from Nazi invasion. Unfortunately, in 1940, the Netherlands came under Nazi control, until liberation in 1945. They lived in fear of being kidnapped, and brought to a military brothel. During this time, Audrey went to school at the Arnhem Conservatory, where she was taught.
After the war, she received a scholarship for ballet, so she continued to study dance in London. She soon realized that she could not make a career of being a ballerina, so she began a modeling career. She was a natural, and everyone thought she found her niche, that is, until the film producers started calling. She began scoring minor roles, such as Gigi, in The Lavender Hill, (1951), a hit musical. Her first film was Secret People, a film about a ballerina that fit Audrey well. She then fell in love with the profession. After coming to America, she played Princess Ann in Roman Holiday, for which she won the 'Best Actress' Oscar. This established her place in Hollywood, and got her the starring role in Sabrina, in 1954. People were drawn to her. She had a natural beauty and elegance, which followed her all of her life. She was voted the most beautiful woman of the century, and her childlike innocence and humor helped her get along with many people in the industry. "All I want for Christmas is another picture with Audrey Hepburn," stated Cary Grant (Biography of Audrey.). One of her most famous roles came in 1961. She starred as Holy Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, which she is still known for today. Even though she received many academy award nominations, she didn't let the fame go to her head. "I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people's minds, isn't in my mind. I just do my thing." (Audrey Hepburn).
In 1967 after 15 years of 'just doing her thing', she retired from acting and became an ambassador for UNICEF, to help improve conditions for children in poverty. Soon after becoming a UNICEF ambassador, she took a trip to Ethiopia, where years of drought and war caused terrible famine. She gave an average of 15 interviews a day, to other countries, trying to spread the word about the terrible conditions, and get help. She felt empathy for these people, because of her own war experience. "I can testify to what UNICEF means to children, because I was among those who received food and medical treatment relief after WW2."(Biography of Audrey.) She also went on a mission trip to South America, and many other countries. "I saw boys their own school house from bricks and cement provided by UNICEF," she reported. Audrey visited a Polio Vaccine project in Turkey, training programs for women in Venezuela, projects for children living and working on the streets in Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras to help with drinking water purification, and radio literacy projects in El Salvador. She saw schools in Bangladesh, programs for children in Thailand, nutrition projects in Vietnam, and camps for displaced kids in Sudan. "She knew better than anyone else that the necessity for such work lives in the eyes of those in need. It is they who bring it home in all its simplicity that such work is worth while," Peter Ustinov told The European. And although Audrey went on trips frequently, she also did work for UNICEF in the US. She testified before congress, launched UNICEF's 'State of the World's Children' report, hosted the Danny Kaye International Children's Awards ceremonies, designed fundraising cards, participated in benefit concert tours, and gave many speeches promoting UNICEF's work. She also received the United States Highest Civilian Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom. Even during Dec., 1992, although diagnosed with appendiceal cancer, she traveled to Somalia, Kenya, The UK, Switzerland, and France, promoting and working for UNICEF.
Audrey Hepburn passed away in Switzerland, at age 63, just as beautiful as ever. She did a lot in her life: she survived the Holocaust, had a successful acting career, and helped children in need through UNICEF. Society may remember her as just another pretty actress but she was a strong, independent woman who was on top of the world for several years. She always took the time to be nice, and help people out. She will forever be a hero.
Page created on 1/30/2015 12:00:00 AM
Last edited 1/30/2015 12:00:00 AM